Till disability do us part

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Many parents care for their disabled children all their lives, even until the parent’s death.

Death is a form of separation of a parent from their disabled child. Happily, some parents prudently plan for it in their Enduring Powers of Attorney and their Wills with such things as Special Disability Trusts which are designed to preserve their child’s social security entitlements.

But many parents, who are lifelong carers, fail to recognise that parental disability (not death) can also be a form of separation from their disabled child. What happens, for example, if a parent succumbs to later life frailty or contracts dementia and can no longer look after their child? How well do we plan for this?

The answer, from our experience, is not very well. We also know, from that same experience, that this failure can have calamitous consequences for a family and thrust the other members of the family into the caring frame, something they had not planned for at all.

In reality, most of us accept that our parental responsibility for our children never ends. Without planning (and implementing that plan), particularly for our disabled children, we will almost inevitably fail in that responsibility and that failure will have ripple effects on the rest of the family.

We have devised legal plans for parents in this situation which cover the three possible scenarios:

  1. Parents with a disabled child who is about to become an adult;
  2. Parents who may lose their capacity to care for their disabled child; and
  3. Parents on their death when others need to care for their disabled child.

If you would like to feel better about this special parental responsibility and know that you are doing the best you can, it may be worth having a chat with us.

Brian Herd
Recognised as one of the leading experts in Australia on elder law, aged care, retirement, estate planning and disability and a regular author, broadcaster and popular presenter on many elder law subjects and issues.